Sexual Harm Prevention Orders

Sexual Harm Prevention Orders
Legally reviewed by: Kevin Waddingham

Cartwright King’s criminal defence solicitors possess extensive expertise in managing cases related to Sexual Harm Prevention Orders (SHPO). Our skilled team has a deep understanding of the relevant legislation and court procedures, allowing us to effectively challenge or comply with SHPOs on a case by case basis. Our expert solicitors have a proven track record of securing successful outcomes for clients, ensuring their rights are protected and helping them navigate through complex legal processes with both confidence and discretion.

If you need assistance with any issues related to SOPOs or SHPOs, contact Cartwright King Solicitors today. Our dedicated team is ready to provide the legal support you need to protect your rights and help you move forward.

What is a Sexual Harm Prevention Order?

Sexual Harm Prevention Orders (SHPO) are made by the courts and can be described as a ‘Sexual ASBO’. These orders were previously referred to as Sexual Offences Prevention Orders (SOPO) prior to March 2015.

SHPOs can be made against any person convicted of a qualifying offence under the Sexual Offences Act 2003. Additionally, they can be made against someone based solely off of alleged behaviour that didn’t result in a prosecution.

For the court to make an order, they must be satisfied that the offender poses a real risk of sexual harm to the public (or a member of the public). This includes behaviour which although does not classify as an offence but the Police or Social Services deem troubling. Therefore, the order is necessary to protect the public against such a risk.

Is a Sexual Harm Prevention Order Recorded as a Conviction?

A SHPO is recorded like any conviction in the criminal courts. Furthermore, any civil order made by the courts will show up on a Police National Computer check. Additionally, a SHPO will show on any enhanced Disclosure and Barring search and would prevent employment in certain areas unless certain exceptional circumstances allow it.

What is Included in a SOPO/SHPO?

A SOPO/SHPO order will be tailored to each offence. Therefore, if the offence is in relation to possession of indecent images, (a non contact offence) the order should not include the prohibition to prevent contact with children under the age of 18. Furthermore, if the victims are of the same gender, the order should distinguish as such.

When making an order, the prohibitions must be justified, proportionate, and enforceable. In many SOPO/SHPO cases, internet use will be regulated but will not prevent the individual from carrying out daily activities online, such as banking and shopping. In such cases, the police will be entitled to seize any device and check its internet history.

Guidelines for SOPO and SHPO Compliance

If you’re subject to a Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO) or a Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO), even after your notification period on the Sex Offences Register has expired, it’s because the law deems it necessary to protect the public from ‘serious sexual harm.’ Breaching this order can result in up to five years of imprisonment.

Can the Court Discharge or Vary a Sexual Offences Prevention Order

Section 103 Sexual Offences Act gives the court discretion to vary or discharge such an order if the court is of the opinion that one of the following (non exhaustive factors) apply:-

  1. The subject is no longer considered a risk of serious sexual harm to members of the public.
  2. Such an order is disproportionate, particularly when considering the original offence that led to the imposition of the order.
  3. If it cannot be policed effectively,
  4. That is infringes fundamental human rights specifically Article 8 ECHR (right to a private and family life),
  5. That it infringes other rights such as the right to employment,
  6. That it is being used by the police to circumvent their procedures such as the use of search warrants,
  7. The risk may not have been properly identifiable and the wording of the order not reflective of this. For instance should those who have been convicted of viewing indecent images (non contact offence) then be subject to non contact conditions?
  8. Alternatively, are you unhappy at the way your offender manager is dealing with your case? – attending at your place of work, speaking to neighbours about your movements and activities?

At Cartwright King, we have extensive experience with Sexual Offences Prevention Orders (SOPO) and Sexual Harm Prevention Orders (SHPO). Our solicitors are experts in sensitively and confidentially helping clients get removed from the register and have these orders discharged, allowing them to move forward with their lives.

How Does It Relate to Notification Requirements?

Typically, SOPOs and notification requirements run concurrently and complement each other. However, there are cases where the notification requirements have expired, but the SOPO remains in effect. This is because being subject to a SOPO automatically triggers notification requirements. In these instances, courts are often sympathetic to discharging the order. Recent judicial practice favours aligning the duration of both orders.

What to Do if You Breach a SOPO?

If you have breached a Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO), it’s important to understand your options and next steps. Minor breaches may not significantly impact the court’s decision, and you have the right to appeal to the local Magistrates’ Court.

Courts view these orders not as punishment but as tools for managing risk once the punitive part of a sentence, typically imprisonment, has ended. However, for offenders aiming for rehabilitation, these orders can feel like punishment.

Many ex-offenders go to great lengths to conceal their convictions and the restrictions imposed by these orders, which can affect employment and personal relationships. Common concerns include whether to disclose details to a partner about charges they were acquitted of, and whether they must register a device used solely at work.

Furthermore, as technology improves, older orders may no longer be practical. Early orders often banned internet use entirely, a condition that is now outdated given the internet’s important role in daily life.

If you have breached a SOPO or need advice on navigating these restrictions, contact Cartwright King for legal guidance.

How Cartwright King Solicitors Can Help?

At Cartwright King, we specialise in assisting clients with Sexual Offences Prevention Orders (SOPO) and Sexual Harm Prevention Orders (SHPO). Our experienced solicitors provide expert legal advice and representation to help you navigate these complex orders. We have a proven track record of successfully discharging or varying SOPOs and SHPOs, allowing our clients to move forward with their lives.

We can help with the following:

  • Discharge or Variation of Orders: Whether the notification period has expired, or the order’s restrictions are impacting your employment or family life, we can assist in applying for the order to be discharged or varied.
  • Addressing Inconsistencies: If there are discrepancies between the SOPO/SHPO and the notification period, we can argue for alignment based on recent judicial practices.
  • Appeals and Legal Guidance: If you have breached a SOPO/SHPO, we provide guidance on your rights and options, including the appeal process to the local Magistrates’ Court.
  • Modernising Orders: For outdated orders that do not account for current technology, we can seek appropriate modifications.
  • Confidential and Sensitive Handling: All enquiries are dealt with in a sensitive, confidential, and professional manner to ensure your peace of mind.

If you require assistance with any matters concerning SOPOs or SHPOs, reach out to Cartwright King Solicitors today. Our dedicated team is here to offer the legal support you need to safeguard your rights and help you move forward.

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